January 27, 2009 at 1:00 am

John Niyo: The Insider

Lions add LBs coach

Schwartz reportedly hires Burke away from Tennessee Titans' staff.

Receiver Larry Fitzgerald is the crown jewel of the Cardinals' 2004 draft class. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. -- New Lions head coach Jim Schwartz has added Matt Burke to his staff as linebackers coach, ESPN.com reported Monday. The team has not confirmed the report.

Burke, 32, has been a member of the Tennessee Titans' staff since 2004. He was a defensive assistant/quality control coach under Schwartz the past three seasons, working with the linebackers along with assistant head coach Dave McGinnis. Burke played at Dartmouth and was a graduate assistant at Boston College for three seasons. He also coached the secondary at Harvard for one season before joining Jeff Fisher's staff in Tennessee.

Ward expects to play

The last time the Steelers reached the Super Bowl, receiver Hines Ward was the game's MVP at Ford Field in Detroit.

This time, he's listed as questionable because of a knee injury suffered in last week's AFC Championship game.

Asked if he thought Ward would play Sunday, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger laughed.

"People ask me that question, and I want to smack them," he said. "I mean, it's Hines Ward, he's going to be out there. People ask me all week if he's going to be out there, and, 'Yes.' First of all, its the Super Bowl. Second of all, it's Hines Ward. He's going to be out there, and he's going to be just fine."

But not without a little sleep deprivation. Ward, who expects to return to practice Thursday, said he spent the last week waking up every two hours during the night to ice his knee. He also had the hyperbaric oxygen chamber he owns shipped to the Steelers' team hotel in Tampa in time for his arrival Monday. Strange, but true.

"I know," he said. "That's all I kept thinking about when I did it: Michael Jackson . But you've got to try everything you can."

Feeling a draft

The seeds for the Arizona Cardinals' success this season are rooted in the team's 2004 draft class. They selected wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald with the No. 3 overall pick in the first round, then snagged linebacker Karlos Dansby in the second round, defensive tackle Darnell Dockett in the third and defensive end Antonio Smith in the fifth.

Fitzgerald has become one of the NFL's brightest stars. Dansby is a defensive captain the Cardinals used their franchise tag on last winter. Dockett was a Pro Bowl selection last season. And Smith has developed into a dangerous pass-rushing threat.

Dockett called it the best draft class in franchise history.

And, he added, "If anybody wants to prove me wrong, I'm going to sit down and have a discussion with them."

No argument here, Darnell.

Extra points

Of course, the comparisons to the great Steelers' 1974 draft aren't worth making. That class produced four Hall of Famers in Lynn Swann , Jack Lambert , John Stallworth and Mike Webster , not to mention four Super Bowl titles.

But it's interesting to note the draft strategy that went into landing this Arizona quartet. The Cardinals, with new coach Dennis Green , ranked the top 120 players in the draft based on their scouting reports, then drafted the best player available, regardless of position.

By contrast, the Lions' 2004 draft -- one of Matt Millen 's better ones in Detroit -- produced Roy Williams , Kevin Jones , Keith Smith , Alex Lewis and Kelly Butler . Only Smith and Lewis are still with the team.

... Roethlisberger on his childhood football idols: "I wear No. 7 because of John Elway . I was a Joe Montana guy growing up. And Jim Kelly and Dan Marino . Those were my four guys who I just really idolized, watched and enjoyed. They get so mad at me when I tell them now that, when I was a little kid, I had their posters on the wall."

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